You may still think they're wrong, but that doesn't mean you can't forgive and move forward.
The 2016 presidential election has been one for the history books, repeatedly described as “the most vicious” yet. Even more than most, this election season has highlighted different approaches to core values like respect, honesty, integrity, and compassion.
Not surprisingly, many of us are also experiencing a higher degree of angst and upheaval in our personal lives and social circles than during previous election seasons. In addition to unfriending people on Facebook, many are struggling to forgive friends and family members with opposing opinions.
The contentiousness of this election was undeniable on the presidential debate stage, where the tone got so heated, that by the final debate, the candidates wouldn’t even shake hands.
Interestingly, just 24 hours after the third presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both found themselves at the same charity event.
It's been reported that while at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York City, they had the following exchange:
Donald Trump turned to Hillary Clinton and said, “You are one tough and talented woman.”
Hillary Clinton replied, “You know, whatever happens with the election, we will need to find a way to work together afterward.”
Pause for a moment and consider how you feel when you read that.
Do you feel relieved?
More willing to trust in basic human kindness?
Better able to take a big, deep breath?
No matter how heated a given debate or disagreement may be between any two people, the fact remains that forgiveness feels good!
Now is the time to start thinking about how we will each navigate forgiveness in relation to our own friends, families and colleagues when this election has stirred up so much emotion, exposing opposing points of view that seem nearly impossible to reconcile.
Here are three things to keep in mind as we move toward Election Day — and beyond — with forgiveness:
1. We can choose to be right OR we can choose to accept and forgive.
When we decide that our viewpoints are “right,” we inherently judge others who feel differently as “wrong.” That right vs. wrong mentality prevents us from forgiving those who disagree with us. Ultimately, we have to choose to be right or to forgive, but not both.
2. Anger and intolerance are contagious.
Throughout this election, many people have felt offended by rhetoric and viewpoints that were diametrically opposed to their own. Ironically, our response is often to feel angry and intolerant in return. But when we respond to anger with anger and to intolerance with intolerance, we become the darkness we intend to oppose.
It is when we open ourselves to compassion that we become the light we seek to find for ourselves in the world.
3. Without darkness, there is no light. Without both, we can’t see.
Throughout this election period, we’ve learned unpleasant truths about several candidates. Rather than allow ourselves to be paralyzed by our fears of the darkness, it is critical that we take notice of the light that has emerged as well.
As a result of the accusations, misdirection and lies that have been unearthed, people are now using their voices to share truths that they otherwise might have kept to themselves. And as a result of that airing process, we have the opportunity to better understand (and hopefully, resolve) the issues we’re facing.
In other words, if we choose to, we can use darkness to create — and to see — more light.
While these reminders are a vital first step, the true challenge around forgiveness goes beyond rational thinking. In order to experience true and lasting forgiveness, we first have to release our more challenging emotions. The emotions many of us are feeling — fear, anger, sadness and more — tend to get stuck in our hearts, minds and bodies.
EFT “Tapping” is a technique by which energy meridian points on the body are stimulated by tapping on them with your own fingertips while voicing aloud how you feel — literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power.
These points act as gateways to the amygdala, that part of the mid-brain that’s essential to the body’s “stress response.”
Using the Tapping technique, we can release negative emotions to experience genuine compassion and forgiveness.
Here is an example tapping exercise you can try out for yourself now, to forgive that friend or family member whose views clash with your own.
For a clear example of how to try out the exercise describe above at home, check out this video:
To start, focus on the primary emotion you feel about that person’s views around this election, and then rate it. For example, if you’re angry at a family member or friend for voting for a candidate you oppose, rate your anger on a scale of 0 – 10 with 10 being the angriest you can imagine feeling.
Allow yourself to feel your true emotions. Once you do that, you can work on releasing them.
Take three deep breaths and begin tapping on the Karate Chop (KC) point.
KC (Repeat three times): Even though I’m so angry/afraid/disappointed about how <person’s name> is voting in this election, it’s safe to relax now and accept how I feel.
Eyebrow: This election.
Side of Eye: It’s brought so much to light.
Under Eye: I can’t believe s/he is voting for that person!
Under Nose: I’m so angry at him/her.
Under Mouth: How can s/he really support that candidate?
Collarbone: I’m so angry!
Under Arm: I can’t forgive him/her.
Top of Head: I refuse to forgive him/her.
Eyebrow: And I’m angry/sad/afraid.
Side of Eye: How could s/he vote for that candidate?
Under Eye: I can’t forgive him/her.
Under Nose: S/he is wrong.
Under Mouth: I am right!
Collarbone: And I can’t forgive him/her.
Under Arm: It’s safe to feel this anger.
Top of Head: All this anger.
Eyebrow: Letting myself feel it now.
Side of Eye: All this anger.
Under Eye: I’m so disappointed in this person.
Under Nose: How could s/he support that candidate?
Under Mouth: This feels personal.
Collarbone: This feels like a betrayal.
Under Arm: I can’t forgive this person for how s/he is voting.
Top of Head: It’s safe to feel this anger now.
Eyebrow: And it’s safe to let it go now.
Side of Eye: I can relax now.
Under Eye: I’m safe feeling this anger.
Under Nose: And I’m safe letting it go.
Under Mouth: I don’t need this anger to protect me.
Collarbone: I can release it now.
Under Arm: Letting it go from every cell in my body now.
Top of Head: I can choose peace.
Eyebrow: I can begin to forgive.
Side of Eye: I can accept that we disagree.
Under Eye: And still release this anger from my body.
Under Nose: It’s safe to release this anger now.
Under Mouth: It’s safe to forgive him/her now.
Collarbone: I can feel peace in my body.
Under Arm: And forgiveness in my heart.
Top of Head: Feeling at peace now.
Now take a deep breath and notice how your primary emotion has shifted. Keep tapping until you get the desired relief.
As you navigate forgiveness during the remainder of this election season and afterward, remember that working together, including with people who hold different viewpoints, is the only way to move forward.
Nick Ortner is CEO of The Tapping Solution, LLC, a company with a mission to bring simple, effective, natural healing into the mainstream through Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or “Tapping.” If you’re new to EFT Tapping, they've got lots of great resources for getting you started with how to tap on their website.